Monday, July 19, 2010

I’m The Personality Type That Likes Reading About Personality Types

I blame Dialogue. It’s one of the How To Write Great Fiction series. In it, the author explains that dialogue needs to not only move the plot but also reveal character, and different characters speak and act differently because they are innately different people.

Then the book summarized an ancient personality typing system called Enneagrams. There are 9 types: Perfectionist, Helper, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter, and Peacemaker.

(and Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc, the Indian chief, the construction worker--oh, wait, wrong lists.)

Since I’m of the famously narcissistic Facebook generation (of course you’ve heard of us), this intrigued me.

First I typed myself: I’m an Enthusiast, which means I’m having a lot of fun writing this blog post but we’ll all be lucky if I actually finish it. Oh, and, can I have that lollipop?

Then I typed my WIP’s main characters and noted what they want and fear.

What do you know? It helped me a lot in getting to know them better. There were some personality traits I had always suspected of a few of them—particular kinds of selfishness, innate talents with people or ideas—but having things articulated in detail helped me immensely.

Even when I didn’t agree with the type descriptions, then I was able to see where my characters diverged from type and were unique.

I also took another test on my characters’ behalf—behalfs? behalves?—the 4-letter personality test sometimes call the Jung 16-type test. This test measures extroversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging.

http://similarminds.com/embj.html (this is an enneagram + Jung test)

My husband is an introverted sensing thinking judger, or an ISTJ. I always test these personality tests on real people to calibrate my gullibility; this system pretty much nailed my husband on his innate ability with information systems, detail, and dislike of crowds and personal, emotional demands.

Again, this told me a lot about my main characters, especially when I cross-referenced the information with their Enneagram results. This took a bit of time, but I don’t have TV so I have to come up with other ways to waste my time.

My dear dear friend T. Lynn Adams (aka The Amazing Sister T) gave me this linky to personality-specific advice on how to fight writer’s block.

http://www19.homepage.villanova.edu/karyn.hollis/prof_academic/Courses/common_files/personality_types/Types%20and%20Writing.pdf

I read it, and once I stopped laughing at myself copy/pasted some sections for my writer friends to read.

Then they laughed, too, because the descriptions of my personality type’s common writing pitfalls were like a summary of all my writing ailments over the past year.

So what’s your personality type?

5 comments:

Scott said...

I like Enneagrams. (See my earlier blog post: http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/2009/06/enneagram-creating-characters.html)

What I really like is that when you usethe Enneagram to figure out a character type, it also gives you the type that conflicts with that character, so it helps you develop two characters at once.

Sachiko said...

They say all good ideas are repeated. :D I'll check out your post--thanks!

Scott said...

Your post was very good, by the way. Informative and entertaining.

Sachiko said...

Thanks, Scott, that's very kind.

Paul West said...

Yeah, what Scott said!